September Wrap Up | 2018

September was a wild month for me. It kicked off quickly with my work experience period starting. I was trained up in reception skills to be useful and underwent some work with the marketing girls. I did so well that the workplace offered to hire me. I will now be working in a casual position but I am so ready to get some money in my pocket and learn more!

I didn’t think I would read that much due to working most days of the week for work experience. I managed to shock myself and read 20 books which equalled 6236 pages. I managed to finish a couple audiobooks this month too on the bus to and from work!

As it is with these wrap-ups, most of these reviews will start appearing in the next few weeks so keep an eye out!

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Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco | Review

Star-Divider

Book Depository | Booktopia | Amazon |

Star-Divider

Rating: ★★★★★

Release Date: September 25th, 2018

Dates Read: September 18th, 2018 to September 20th, 2018

Trigger Warnings: gruesome murders, descriptions of death, PTSD references, anxiety

Pages: 416

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Genre: young adult, mystery, romance, historical fiction

Goodreads blurb:

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

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Top 17 Books of 2017

Wow, 2017, what a year. So much has happened in my life. There have been so many hardships throughout this year and sometimes it was a mess. Sometimes it left me having a relapse in my room at 3am and sometimes it ended with me on top of the moon being so glad of all the progress I made.

But, you’re not all here to read about my mental health and my hardships of this year. You’re all here to read about what are my top 17 books of 2018. This was strangely an easy list to format. I tried to keep it mainly to 2017 releases, but some are just books I read this year and I adored. So, let’s get stuck into it. This list is in no particular order, so don’t assume because a book is higher up or lower it has more value.


1. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas | Review

This is the one that will have people screaming at me the most I think. I know so many people despise Sarah and her books, but her representation of PTSD really helps me. So, having Chaol, the main character, suffering throughout the book was something that resonated with me and left my feelings all over the place. It was also interesting to learn about his recovery, my mum had been in a car accident and told she’d never walk again (she did and does) so it was interesting to read about something that upsets her too much to talk about.

2. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesa Zappia | Review

I think this hit a lot of people’s favourite books this year. The fandom representation and anxiety throughout hit the nail on the head. It was also interesting to see a character who wrote and fanfiction to be incorporated into a novel. I used to write fanfiction (cringe) so I sincerely enjoyed this dynamic because I met one of my closest friends from writing it.

3. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu | Review

Now, this had to be one of my top books of 2017. It was incredible. It was the book I needed when I was younger and not sure where I fit in the world. When I truly needed some girl power. Honestly, I’m still speechless about this book but I will continue to scream about it and shove it into anyone’s hands I can.

4. Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare | Review

Okay, so obviously Lord of Shadows was my favourite book of the year. I’ve made it clear how much I adore Cassandra Clare’s books and The Dark Artifices series is no exception. Her writing has improved so much over 10 years so I’m even recommending this series who didn’t like The Mortal Instruments. I really am still speechless over this book. I will definitely be re-reading before Queen of Air and Darkness releases next year.

5. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty | Review

Now, The City of Brass is a shock favourite of the year honestly. It was such a magical read that really drew me in. The culture and just, overall, the story was so absolutely incredible. I am still unable to really grasp what happened in it and it’s another book I want to shove onto absolutely anyone who will listen.

6. The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee | Review

Mackenzi Lee’s work is one book that has stuck with me since I read it months ago. It was so what I needed. A story about two young men and a girl causing mischief throughout Europe with a sense of adventure and serious tones throughout the novel. My favourite thing about this particular work was the inclusion of epilepsy. As someone who’s mum has epilepsy, it was incredible to see it represented in fiction with such a raw emotion. It truly is difficult to see someone you love suffer.

7. Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco | Review

I absolutely loved the first book in this series and the second book was no exception. I loved it. Honestly. This book also had some PTSD representation throughout it, that in my opinion, was so well done. The storyline is just as incredible as the first, even if I guessed the killer in this one. Maniscalco is just an incredible writer who I sing the highest of praises to.

8. A List of Cages by Robin Roe | Review

I read this book before I had my blog and really had a chance to rave about it. There are a lot of triggers in this book I wasn’t aware of but I read it in one sitting and was awake until late in the night crying over what happened. I still think about this book. My best friend actually bought me a physical copy for my birthday and I’m just so in love. It was just such an emotional punch so be prepared for that.

9. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor | Review

This is probably the most shocking book on my list. I put this book down after starting it and wasn’t expecting to ever go back. I had bought it because it was pretty and $11. One day though I picked it up on a whim and wow. This book. I am completely in love with Lazlo. Yet another book I am recommending endlessly to my friends and family. I really think this particular one is a good fit for anyone.

10. They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera | Review

I just loved this book. There are no words for me to even describe how great it was. Read it. Now.

11. Everless by Sara Holland | Review

This is a debut I just loved. The concept is just so intricate and so elaborate. I was blown away by it, not at all expecting a favourite book to come out of reading it. Sure, it doesn’t come out until next year for the US but this book is just so incredible you need to preorder now. 

12. How To Make A Wish By Ashley Herring Blake | Review

Similar to They Both Die At The End I have no words to describe this book. I am trying to shove it on my sister quite aggressively (because it needs to be shared) but she refuses to read it and it frustrates me. So, to everyone reading this you need to pick up this book. Obviously you need to pick up every book on the list, but still.

13. Renegades by Marissa Meyer | Review

I knew I was going to love Renegades. So, I wasn’t shocked when I loved Renegades. Recently its been the target of some homophobic reviews which is really annoying because this book is incredible. I absolutely love the anti-hero concept so I sincerely loved reading about it in Marissa’s beautiful writing style.

14. Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan | Review

This one kind of speaks for itself. It’s the final book in a series and makes the list because Rick Riordan is an incredible writer. His inclusion of the mythologies in his worlds are so flawless and engaging that I can’t help but fall in love with absolutely everything.

15. The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones | Review

This was probably the biggest shock for my list. I picked it up on a whim because the ebook was on my phone was some reason. I thought it was a series as well, I’m not sure why? I fell in love completely. This book is so underhyped. Why haven’t more people read it? I don’t understand, honestly. It is truly a masterpiece. The writing, the storyline,  the romance. All. So. Incredible. Pick this up, please.

16. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed | Review

If you like Moxie, then you’ll love The Nowhere Girls. These two go right together with feminism movements. However, this one is a tad darker and intense. The girls fight back and a movement begins to protect others. It also made me realise some things about my own life I had to move through mentally. It was, however, such a powerful feminist read and I highly recommend it.

17. The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie | Review

Another unexpected favourite. This book got really popular on Goodreads for awhile and I decided to jump on the hype train. It’s such a beautiful f/f romance with pirates involved. Was not what I expected at all but I am glad to have it on this list!


So, there we have it! My top 17 reads of this year. Obviously, I recommend them all highly and sincerely suggest you give them as gifts to yourself (or others) this holiday season. All 17 books meant something important to me this year.

Have you read any of the books on this list? What are some of your favourite reads of 2017?

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco | Review

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Amazon | Book Depository

Thank you to Hachette Children’s Books for kindly sending me a copy to review. All thoughts are my own, however. 

Spoiler Free.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: anxiety, grief, murder, gore and PTSD.

Rating: ★★★★★

Release Date: October 10th 2017 (paperback)

Pages: 448

Publisher: Little, Brown & Company

Goodreads Review: here

Goodreads Synopsis:

Bone white. Blood red. Along this path, you’ll soon be dead.

Following the horrifying revelation of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth flees her home in Victorian London to enroll as the only female student in Europe’s most prestigious forensics school. But it’s impossible to find peace in the dark, unsettling Romanian castle that houses the school—and was also once home to the depraved Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Prince Dracula.

When a series of troubling deaths brings whispers of Vlad’s bloodthirsty return from the grave, Audrey Rose and her sharp-witted companion, Thomas Cresswell, must unravel the cryptic clues that will lead them to the shadowlike killer—living or dead.


R A M B LE

I try to make it known that Kerri Maniscalco is one of my favourite authors. I don’t know If I’ve made that clear, but I love her. Is that too far? She just seems like an incredible person and I am absolutely in love her writing. Hunting Prince Dracula met every expectation I had and more. Maniscalco manages to weave a haunting and mysterious tale that incorporates romances between incredible characters. She puts her twist on historical fiction and she does it well.

This book features some things that the first didn’t, though. We still have the feminism in place for our main character, and even more feminist characters are introduced throughout the novel. However, the events of the first book are weighing down on our main character. Audrey Rose is plagued with flashbacks to what happened (what I’m labelling PTSD) and anxiety, while also dealing with an immense amount of grief. I’ll speak more on these later, but the author deals with these particular topics in a way that is perfectly integrated into the story. The mental health incorporations are seamlessly introduced and, in my belief, treated with care as they should.

I’m not sure what else I can ramble about. This book features a diverse cast and is one of the only historical fiction novels I can find myself sitting through without getting mad about the treatment of women. Audrey Rose and Thomas are incredible and the overall cast of characters is beyond interesting. Not a single event in this book can be viewed as filler and it is my belief that this book in no way suffers from second book syndrome.


P L O T

Hunting Prince Dracula is quite clearly a mystery. Our main characters are looking at becoming forensic scientists (I believe? They basically cut open dead bodies) and are now travelling all the way to Romania to further their studies. This is pretty amazing since Audrey Rose is a woman in the 1800’s.

However, wherever our main characters go mystery follows, it seems, and soon the pair is caught up in the strange murders that are plaguing the village near them. Villagers are going missing and the legend of Dracula is returning. The puncture marks and lack of blood in any of the victim’s bodies make it easy to believe one thing; the Strigoi have returned.

While all this is happening, Audrey Rose is struggling to come to turns with what happened in London a few weeks prior to her attending this school. The idea of another killer on the loose sends her into a spiral of fear. It was interesting to see her reactions to certain events, how she had to do her best to remain unflinching in order to be seen as an equal to her peers. I loved seeing the friendships she made and how she did her best to remain ‘a proper lady of society’ while doing things that no one of that era would approve of.

The mystery is beautifully woven in a way that you are second guessing everyone. I worked out it was pretty early in the book but I was second guessing myself the whole way until the reveal. It was incredible. I could barely keep my draw my dropping. I was also grinning giddily in public at other parts.

So, warning, don’t read this in public if you are afraid of people watching you.


C H A R A C T E R S

#A U D R E Y   R O S E

Audrey Rose is everything I want to be and more. She is an icon. I have gone through some events in my life that have lead to me being slightly untrusting and cautious of new people. However, in some ways, Audrey Rose has gone through more traumatic scenarios and still fights for her rights in a man dominated world. An absolute icon.

Throughout this book we witness her discovering herself more. Who she is when she isn’t surrounded by people she grew up with and when the restrictions that society have placed on her seem to get left behind. It was enchanting. Can I say that? Well, I just did. I just absolutely adored seeing how she dealt with situations and viewing her struggles with her mental health.

It was absurd, in some ways, to see struggles I face on a day to day basis reflected in another character. I don’t know. Whenever there is PTSD in a book I immediately have so much love and appreciation due to my own struggles. Especially when it’s done amazingly wellAnd, let me tell you, it was like Maniscalco had gone into my head and plucked thoughts and feelings to put in text. I just have no words to describe how reading a character so like me felt.

#T H O M A S

Thomas Cresswell is the actual love of my life. I have never read a character who I would love to meet in person (and probably fall in love with him only to be rejected, it’s how my life goes, friends). He is everything I want in a man. I truly didn’t know it was this possible to fall in love with a character. I may need to change degrees and learn how to create humans (I have no idea on science, clearly) so I can form my own Thomas Cresswell for myself.

On a more professional note (big joke there, when are my reviews ever professional?) Thomas is an incredibly complex character. The way he develops and grows in this series. His charm, his sarcasm, his adoration for Audrey Rose. It is all so completely swoon-worthy. The fact he is merely there to be her sidekick rather than the focal point. He is okay taking the backseat and letting her drive which is a dream.

Thomas was a tad absent this book due to mistakes he made and were dealt with amazingly, but I could still feel his presence as we learnt more about his past and how he was connected to Romania.

Basically, I love Thomas Cresswell and I would give away all my books to find a guy like that (not really, but let’s pretend).


O V E R A L L

Overall, Maniscalco did it again. She has delivered another incredible story that leaves you on the edge of your seat in anticipation. She has delivered a story with a full cast of characters that will instantly become some of your favourites. She has delivered a masterpiece, in my opinion, that has immediately shot to my favourite 3 books of this year (maybe ever). I am truly anticipating book three and what I can do to wrap my greedy little hands on it despite the fact it’s only in the draft stage.

Happy reading, everyone! And, if you have time, you need to pick up this series.